America's worst charities

Our ranking based on cash paid to solicitors in the past decade

In detail#26: Veterans Assistance Foundation

Veterans Assistance Foundation raises about $2.5 million a year and spends about half of that providing temporary housing and job training to struggling veterans.

Although the foundation gets nearly half its revenue through a federal government grant, it came in at No. 26 on the Times/CIR list because it has paid $11 million to for-profit solicitation companies over the past decade.

For at least the past 10 years, the foundation has signed contracts with telemarketers allowing the companies to keep 90 cents of every dollar raised.

The founder of the charity, Robert Piaro, said that all the federal money he receives must be spent on specific programs. To provide other services, the charity needed additional income, Piaro said. He said he believes hiring professional fundraisers is wasteful, but the money allowed his charity to buy several houses in California and Wisconsin to shelter veterans.

Piaro, who does not receive a salary from the charity, said when the charity's current solicitation contract ends, he plans to stop using professional fundraisers because of the high cost.

"It’s terrible. I’ve tried for years to find someone better," he said.

Piaro said the organization was recently flagged for an audit by the IRS because of its fundraising costs. The IRS has not yet reported back.


Veterans Assistance Foundation

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Maine 1 Fine/penalties $1,000

Fundraising and spending history

For years prior to 2008, cash raised from other sources might be included in the "cash raised by solicitors" column.

Year 990
form
Cash
raised by
solicitors
Solicitor
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Charity
salaries
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
Reported
totals to
programs
2011 pdf $1,197,332 $1,071,308 $126,024 $562,338 $0 0.00% $1,116,169
2010 pdf $1,273,992 $1,179,478 $94,514 $504,522 $0 0.00% $1,059,602
2009 pdf $1,352,777 $1,245,433 $107,344 $424,943 $0 0.00% $1,013,401
2008 pdf $1,549,819 $1,406,239 $143,580 $410,817 $0 0.00% $955,128
2007 pdf $1,375,032 $1,198,431 $176,601 $345,501 $0 0.00% $886,116
2006 pdf $1,577,085 $1,447,819 $129,266 $310,865 $309,456 19.62% $1,209,779
2005 pdf $1,198,748 $1,097,602 $101,146 $253,211 $328,716 27.42% $1,109,985
2004 pdf $939,107 $837,900 $101,207 $292,575 $325,121 34.62% $1,239,336
2003 pdf $960,941 $839,774 $121,167 $356,629 $321,424 33.45% $1,425,553
2002 pdf $759,926 $658,686 $101,240 $338,167 $0 0.00% $1,114,553
zTOTALS $12,184,759 $10,982,670 $1,202,089 $3,799,568 $1,284,717 10.5% $11,129,622

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 Xentel (Edmonton, CN) $1,549,819 $1,406,239 $143,580 9.30%
2009 Xentel (Edmonton, CN) $1,352,777 $1,245,433 $107,344 7.90%
2010 Xentel (Edmonton, CN) $1,273,992 $1,179,478 $94,514 7.42%
2011 Xentel (Edmonton, CN) $1,197,332 $1,071,308 $126,024 10.50% telephone